Tania Kovats 

Small Finds 

Exhibition at PEER: 13 August to 6 October 2007
Museum of the White Horse: national tour launched at PEER 10 August 2007

'Small finds' is an archaeological term to describe artefacts found during an excavation. At Peer, Kovats has had an area of the gallery floor excavated by an archaeologist. By physically disrupting the solidity of the white cube she has conceptually made a well from which her collection of artefacts have been revealed. The objects found are all associated with white horses and form the basis for the contents of the Museum of the White Horse, a mobile landscape museum that begins its four-month tour of the central southern England outside Peer on the 10th and 11th of August as part of the Shoreditch Festival (see Museum of the White Horse press release below).

At Peer we are presented with the record of Kovats' investigations. The site has been surveyed and mapped. Kovats' small finds have been meticulously recorded using her own graphic interpretation of archaeological drawing. In these drawings, particular codes of mark making denote distinct materials. Scale and volume have to be precisely indicated. The drawings explore the compulsion to record every detail, evidence of usage, or celebrate the inability to penetrate the meaning of an object, however hard it is scrutinized. The relationship with narrative is expanded in a series of drawings of books. Kovats has also recorded a number of finds using sophisticated mechanical reproduction technology – a digital scanner. These hyper-real representations appear to reveal more than the unassisted eye can see, and the dark photographic space that the object floats within point to their disembodied status, somewhere in limbo between artefact and artwork.

Kovats is aware of the historical precedence in creating a void or negative space in the gallery context. In her sculptural re-landscaping of Peer, she is most interested in the processes of archaeology, and its satisfyingly formal conventions. Kovats is equally aware that there is something both celebratory and sombre about the process of an archaeological dig. By uncovering small finds is one displacing or disrupting the past?

To accompany the exhibition a fully illustrated 16 page booklet containing an edited conversation between Tania Kovats and Gary Lock, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford is available. Click here to buy a copy.

This project has been generously supported by: